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imperialism & war | media criticism m20: day x

Regarding Iraq: A Reminder

Congress just issued a report blaming the war on faulty intelligence. Said one senator, "If we had known, we never would have authorized this war."

How about that.
About a year and a half ago, I stood with many of you in the north park blocks on a cold, gray morning, preparing to march without a permit. Shivering, we stood together, shoulder to shoulder with thousands -- no, millions -- of people throughout the Earth. In every city in the world, people rose up against the war we were all being dragged into against our will. In Lisbon, Rome, New York, Mexico City, and everywhere in between, the people were screaming to be heard. A million people marched in London that day.

Here in Portland, as in every other city, we declared ourselves against the war. Before the march, people began climbing up onto a park bench to address each other. One by one, we stood up there, no notes in hand, no prepared speeches, no megaphones. With only our voices, we spoke from our hearts. And we listened to each other, even if the world's leaders and the corporate media seemed to be turning a deaf ear.

The thing I remember most about that morning was a woman who stood up with a child at her side. She reminded us that we stood in solidarity with all the frightened children in Iraq who would soon have bombs raining down upon them. And she told the crowd that she had come to the march that day because she wanted the world to know, and she wanted our children to know, "We were here. And We Said No."

Indeed. Even as the US government beat the drums of war and the corporate media played cheerleader to disaster, WE SAID NO. We paid a high price for speaking up as we did. That day, as has happened so often in our city, the police attacked us with chemical weapons and violence. The corporate media justified the attacks upon us -- we were, after all, the troublemakers. Why weren't we proudly donning flag lapel pins and "standing behind the president" the way they were doing? Didn't we "support our troops"?

What a difference a few thousand dead bodies have made. Today I understand that congress is crying foul. The intelligence regarding WMDs in Iraq was wrong. We went to war under false pretenses. So says a scathing report on what went awry. Thousands of dead people later, congress is passing the buck, declaring that they were deceived by faulty intelligence. They're blaming everyone but themselves for the fiasco. And the "imbedded" reporters are starting to look a little sheepish finally too. It is as if they're finally sobering up -- far too late. As they discreetly shake off their flag lapen pins, they pretend they didn't drop the ball. They pretend they never took the wrong side. They pretend we never bled in our streets trying to get them to tell the truth. They pretend it wasn't their fault. While bodies pile up like cord wood and blood runs through the streets of Baghdad, the corporate media drags out pundits and politicians to analyze how we could have gotten it all so wrong.

Well I want to remind the corporate media, and congress, and anyone who will listen: We did not get it wrong. They did. While they caved, one by one, to bushCo's idiotic banter, We were there, and We said No.

We, the people, never asked congress to authorize this awful destruction. On the contrary, we begged them not to. But they refused to hear us. We never believed in WMDs in Iraq. We never believed the thick, imbecilic words of george w bush. We never believed the war was justified or justifiable. And we told them so. WE SAID NO.
Intelligence Failure 09.Jul.2004 21:27

The Dude

The fish rots at the head first.

The question is which fish is it?

Thank you ! 09.Jul.2004 21:52

politics as impossible

This is a good time to remember all that "No Excuses" reviews and reminds. My young son, years ago, used to always remake words to suit his growing mind -- he used the word "be-member" rather than "remember".

What the insane powers-that-be expect of the people, that is, of us, is that we will let the corporate media create a false memory to supplant the true memory of the people. Of course, if we truly do remember (or "be-member") what we have lived, then we see through the media charades.

So, thank you, "No Excuses".

You're absolutely right ... 09.Jul.2004 22:09

Me

... but only three senators stated publicly that knowing then what they know now would have changed the way they voted. In other words, an overwhelming majority in Congress apparently feel - as Bush and his buddies do - that it's perfectly okay to wage aggressive preemptive war against anyone, anytime, just because they feel like it. Never mind Nuremberg, or anything else. That's a pretty sad commentary on the state of our country, when a majority of its leaders are self-admitted war criminals proudly guilty of crimes against peace - the single most important issue underlying prosecution of the Major Nazi War Criminals. The Intelligence Committee report gave all of them the perfect cover - all they had to do was express outrage at being lied to and say they wouldn't have supported an illegal war. Instead, they behave like the unrepentant killer confessing in a Perry Mason courtroom: "Yeah, I killed him, and I'm GLAD I killed him, and I'd do it again!"

In the meantime, a majority in Congress have fixed it so that nothing regarding the Bush administration's role in concocting the false intelligence will be revealed until AFTER the "election". If anything stinks more than the illegal war itself, it's the way things are shaping up in its aftermath - everyone in the giant den of thieves and villains we call government covering up for everyone else.

On the evening news it was announced that research now underway holds the promise of increasing human lifespans to 150 years. We may all have to live that long to see the truth.

Framing the debate 10.Jul.2004 00:40

James

From the very first beat of the Bush Administration's war drums, the debate was framed in such a way that the question was never whether war justified. It was widely accepted in the media, in government and by the public that if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, war was justified. In every news report, it was a given than if those weapons existed, war was justified.

So the question was always: Does Iraq have these weapons? Are they hiding them? Are they producing them? What did they use them for in the past? Is Iraq potentially threatening? (Potentially being the key word).

I can't remember reading a single item in the media which suggested war might not be justified even if those weapons existed. And so it was very easy for the Bush Administration to make the case to an American public which, contrary to the implications of this article, strongly supported the war at the time.

Intelligence gathering is no easy task. These congressmen are shocked that we didn't know every detail of Iraq's weapons program before war. But that sort of intelligence has never, ever been available to decision makers. In secretive regimes like Ba'athist Iraq, there are very few individuals who have a vast knowledge covering the majority or totality of the country's weapons programs. And you can't just send a CIA operative to infiltrate those governments. You can't just send a guy to apply for the job of Iraqi Revolutionary Council member, or commander of the special forces. Individuals with high value intelligence have been active in politics in these countries for decades. They're not just picked up off the street.

Intelligence agencies get the most valuable intelligence from defections. The last major, important defection from Iraq was Hussein Kamel, in 1995. At that time, Iraq had an active weapons program. That much is beyond doubt. UNSCOM was still destroying entire, active biological weapons production facilities. Kamel provided a wealth of information.

But since that time and the end of UNSCOM inspections, the intelligence from Iraq has been piecemeal. The large part has been analytical intelligence from satellite photographs, or small bits of information from Iraqi government officials without access to large amounts of highly valuable information.

That lack of intelligence was probably exasperated by a sort of multinational institutional groupthink resulting from the sharing of intelligence conclusions between nations without the sharing of the raw data and sources which supported those conclusions.

Of course the intelligence was bad. That's the very nature of the game. It's always bad.

The problem lies with an administration which considered posession of weapons of mass destruction ample justification for war and a complicit media which never called them on it.

I think the left today exaggerates how sure they were that Iraq lacked any and all weapons of mass destruction prior to war. If you search back in news articles, in blogs, and even on this site, you'll find few articles claiming Iraq lacked weapons of mass destruction whatsoever. Lots of articles on Iraq's lack of nuclear weapons and nuclear programs, but very few articles supposing Iraq had no chemical weapons at all.

The point is that it never mattered. Personally, I always assumed Iraq /did/ have certain weapons of mass destruction. From what I had read, I was virtually certain they had no nuclear weapons or even a nuclear weapons program. I also thought the Bush Administration routinely exaggerated the intelligence they gathered. But without a doubt, I always assumed Iraq had stores of mustard gas, of sarin, of certain weaponized biological agents like Anthrax, among other things.

At the time, it seemed silly to believe otherwise. Iraq had used those weapons en masse in the Iran-Iraq war. They used sarin against the Kurds. And UNSCOM was discovering all manner of weapons as late as 1996.

I don't know what happened to the weapons. Probably the Hussein regime, demonstrably reluctant to use these weapons against America in the past, decided it simply wasn't worth posessing the weapons.

But it never mattered to me. Iraq had the weapons in '91, but they didn't use them, even upon invasion and the thread of being toppled.

Of course the intelligence was bad, but that's no excuse. Go back to the premise. That's the error in judgement. That's why people should be mad. Not only were they lied to, but even if they hadn't been the war still wouldn't have been justified.

Powel and Rice new Iraq had no WMD in early 2001 10.Jul.2004 09:08

Nadia

 http://www.thememoryhole.org/war/powell-rice-wmd.wmv Powel in a newsconference in Egypt and Rice in a news tv show. Listen how they say IRAQ HAS NO WEAPONS.



------------
 http://www.thememoryhole.org/war/powell-no-wmd.htm

the political leaders are the real problem. 10.Jul.2004 11:12

this thing here

>The problem lies with an administration which considered posession of weapons of mass destruction ample justification for war and a complicit media which never called them on it.<

and furthermore, the problem lies with that fact that it is neither the duty nor the responsibility of an intelligence agency such as the CIA to "justify" or "not justify" a military action, nor is it the duty and responsibility of the CIA to determine how its intelligence is used or not used by other parts of the government, nor is it the duty and responsibility of the CIA to give the "go" or "don't go" command for a military action.

these duties and responsibilities lie with political leaders.

the attempt to blame the CIA for the faulty decisions of the poltical leaders is disgusting, and clearly nothing more than attempt by these leaders to cover their ass. the fact that the investigation into how the POLITICAL LEADERS USED the CIA's information is not expected to release its findings until after the elections is yet another clear sign of the political leaders - on who's desk the buck stops with regards to military action - covering their ass.

and yes, it is totally legitimate to blame the press here. complicity is putting it lightly in my opinion. i would use the term hand in hand and negligent.

the question now is, when did the political leaders know the murkiness of the data, the multiple caveats and the many qualifiers? because if they knew these things before the war...

Criminal Chalabi Shits and Runs - Repeatedly 10.Jul.2004 16:32

North Portlander

James wrote: "Intelligence agencies get the most valuable intelligence from defections."

Don't make me laugh. Chalabi and his cronies were part of the intelligence problem here. While some defectors undoubtedly provide useful and reliable information, a lot of them have an axe to grind.

Chalabi is not a defector 11.Jul.2004 02:31

James

...in the commonly understood sense of the word. He just emigrated from Iraq, many decades ago.

But perhaps I should re-phrase my statement to say "Intelligence agencies get the most valuable intelligence from high-level government defections."

Chalabi does not fit that bill. He left Iraq when he was twelve or fourteen years old. I certainly don't mean to imply that the best information available to our intelligence agencies comes from spoiled teenagers.

Yes. We Were There, and We Said No. 11.Jul.2004 10:59

CatWoman

Over and over again, we said No.

I remember the woman in the north park blocks. It was in January, months before the war began on paper, but long after people had already been dying in Iraq for American imperialism. And yes, WE SAID NO.

We said no in October, and November and December. In January, and February, and in March. Each time, we bled a little. And the people of Iraq and Afghanistan bled a lot. We were attacked over and over again by the police. Hypocritical and weak-spined police officers who surely could not have supported the war either. But they were the pawns of the machine and they took their jobs seriously, and they beat us to prevent us from doing anything to stop the machine. Well, they were wrong. And we fucking told them so. We fucking told them so. Shame on them all.

And the corporate media demonized us. Self-righteous and smarmy little anchor people and so-called "journalists" flapping red white and blue platitudes into the winds of war, they belittled us and called us names and justified brutal assualts upon us in the streets. They lied to us, and about us, and about the war. They mugged for the cameras and competed with each other for the coveted "very most patriotic and willing to look the other way from the truth" awards that were being dispensed like candies from the whitehouse. They failed their calling as journalists, they failed the people of this city, and they failed the earth. They let the whitehouse lead us by lies over a cliff. And we told them so. We fucking told them so. Shame on them, shame on them all.

So now they want us to share the blame? All right then, we share the blame. We share the blame because we did not take them down. We share the blame because we did not tear down the corporate broadcasting towers and don armor of our own and take to the streets and fucking fight BACK. We did not defend ourselves when the police beat us into the pavement. Instead, we expected to reason with them. We locked down together, or marched together, or wrote letters to the editor, but we did not FIGHT BACK. We waited for "justice" to come later, in lawsuits and public outrage and "we-told-you-so"s, but we did not take them down.

We did not pull the plug on the corrupt and treasonous government that unforgivably used us all as sandbags in their power grab. We did not all rise up together and take on the war mongers. We did not risk it all to stop them. Of course we didn't; we were afraid to. And for that, we share the blame.

We did not finally and completely turn our backs on capitalism and starve the beast. We still drive our cars and shop for our consumer goods, and those things are paid for with the blood of soldiers and innocents. We did not stand together as one, as we should have done, but instead we allowed ourselves to be divided into "good" protesters and "bad" protesters, rather than warriors. We did not dismantle the corporate police state that is America...Yet. Yes, we share the blame. ...For now.

Let us learn from this.

Yes. We Were There, and We Said No. 11.Jul.2004 11:02

CatWoman

Over and over again, we said No.

I remember the woman in the north park blocks. It was in January, months before the war began on paper, but long after people had already been dying in Iraq for American imperialism. And yes, WE SAID NO.

We said no in January, and February, and in March. Each time, we bled a little. And the people of Iraq and Afghanistan bled a lot. We were attacked over and over again by the police. Hypocritical and weak-spined police officers who surely could not have supported the war either. But they were the pawns of the machine and they took their jobs seriously, and they beat us to prevent us from doing anything to stop the machine. Well, they were wrong. And we fucking told them so. We fucking told them so. Shame on them all.

And the corporate media demonized us. Self-righteous and smarmy little anchor people and so-called "journalists" flapping red white and blue platitudes into the winds of war, they belittled us and called us names and justified brutal assualts upon us in the streets. They lied to us, and about us, and about the war. They mugged for the cameras and competed with each other for the coveted "very most patriotic and willing to look the other way from the truth" awards that were being dispensed like candies from the whitehouse. They failed their calling as journalists, they failed the people of this city, and they failed the earth. They let the whitehouse lead us by lies over a cliff. And we told them so. We fucking told them so. Shame on them, shame on them all.

So now they want us to share the blame? All right then, we share the blame. We share the blame because we did not take them down. We share the blame because we did not tear down the corporate broadcasting towers and don armor of our own and take to the streets and fucking fight BACK. We did not strike back when the police beat us into the pavement. Instead, we expected to reason with them. We locked down together, or marched together, or wrote letters to the editor, but we did not FIGHT BACK. We waited for "justice" to come later, in lawsuits and public outrage and "we-told-you-so"s, but we did not take them down.

We did not pull the plug on the corrupt and treasonous government that unforgivably used us all as sandbags in their power grab. We did not all rise up together and take on the war mongers. We did not risk it all to stop them. Of course we didn't; we were afraid to. And for that, we share the blame.

We did not finally and completely turn our backs on capitalism and starve the beast. We still drive our cars and shop for our consumer goods, and those things are paid for with the blood of soldiers and innocents. We did not stand together as one, as we should have done, but instead we allowed ourselves to be divided into "good" protesters and "bad" protesters, rather than warriors. We did not dismantle the corporate police state that is America...Yet. Yes, we share the blame. ...For now.

Let us learn from this.

Distinctions 11.Jul.2004 13:25

North Portlander

James, you are a true gentleman. Thanks - however isn't Chalabi wanted for shady business dealings in the middle east? Perhaps he immigrated to the US at an early age but my understanding is that he maintained international contact and established an unsavory reputation. Aren't the people he cheated looking for him? He's not a guy whose family moved here, turned his back on Iraq and became an apple pie American.

Re. the Iraq demonstrations - there are some important distinctions that should be made. Some of us were sceptical of the excuses for invasion while others simply felt it was a bad idea to adhere to a doctrine of preemptive strike regardless of the presence of a weapons program.

Both were valid positions which were derided by the media and the administration. The sheer volume of these demonstrations and the positions of several traditional allies should have been enough to cause pause, but they didn't. Now our government is trying to wiggle around and convince us that they were all good patriots who were JUST FOOLED.

What a load of horse excrement.

The Comfortable Herd 11.Jul.2004 13:32

Cheney Watch

CatWoman - Two words . . . "denial" and "comfort" . . . two words that perfectly describe the reason most Americans don't bother to trouble themselves with the ongoing evil in our government.

It's amazing how much someone can wake up and take notice when things suddenly become harder for THEM. Otherwise it's easy to insulate and ignore the troubles of others, buy-buy-buy (products as well as bad ideas), and live in the present rather than a troubling vision of what the future will bring.

Apparently there are still enough Americas who are not critically affected by the Bush administration's agenda. The proof is in the wall-to-wall new car ads on prime time TV, embarrassing polls repeatedly trumpeted by the mainstream media applauding Bush's approval ratings and commercials, the "neck and neck" campaign for the Presidency, the nearly inaudible cries of people forced back into military service after having fulfilled their tours of duty.

I think there may have to be one hell of a big crash across the board before average Americans will be moved to do anything but live their personal lives in bubbles.

Regarding Comfort and Denial 11.Jul.2004 17:55

Maybe...but

I don't believe the polls or the "neck and neck" race for the presidency now any more than I believed the corporate media when they told us bush won the last election, or when they told us there were WMDs in Iraq, or when they told us it was patriotic to go to war with third world countries whose innocent citizens had never done me wrong.

I'm not sure it's true that "most" americans are comfortably numb to all this. To be sure, most of us are still out here greedily consuming everything we can get our hands on...mostly out of ignorance. But we're learning. And I seriously think there may very well be more of us than there are of them.

Wake up 11.Jul.2004 22:05

Quevon

Talk is cheap people. We can talk about this crap all we want. Change starts with us. You all talk big but are you willing to sacrifice everything you have accomplished to start this change. You better be willing to give up your fancy car, your nice house, your family, friends, and least of all your life. This is the end times friends and neighbors. All we need is 1% of the populace and we could make these changes you talk about a reality. Everyone is willing to die for GOD, but not everyone is willing to live for him.

Thank you 12.Jul.2004 06:52

CatWoman and NoExcuses zapatavive@gmx.de

Thank you "NO Excuses" and CatWoman for these poignant insights.
I was out there those days and nights also, and also walked away feeling we didnīt do enough, despite 11 days of demonstrations around the city in one form or another. A shove and a little pepperspray for us, and cluster bombs for Iraqi kids.

We must do better.

One in 550 people on the entire planet demonstrated on Feb 15th, but it was not enough. They went back to their jobs on Feb 16th. We need to change more in our lives to free ourselves from the everyday aspects of a system that demands war, we need to reach out to more people, and we need to fight harder and smarter on the street.

Iīm especially disappointed that so little is going on to protest ever since the fall of Baghdad, when most of the real atrocities began. We need to change that. Letīs get to it.

Try Air America Radio! 14.Jul.2004 15:07

Bd